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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » F/X » » Renting High Resolution Cameras (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Jared Sherlock
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Hello all, when organizing how my new stage illusion show will go in the final weeks of rehearsals on stage. I am very set on recording lots of it for later promotional use or videos in general. It would be done in bits in order to allow different angles on certain effects. But the point of the post would be, is this a necessary need? If so where are the best types of places to rent them? What is the typical model that you would want to use? Keep in mind I am not CNN by anymeans, just wanting good material to work with. And finally....what is the typical cost to rest these cameras?

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Profile of Lyndel

Keep in mind that the camera is only a portion of the equation. The person you choose to operate that camera is just as important. A good videographer with experience in filming entertainers for promotional puposes is vital to getting a quality product to promote yourself with.

Check out http://www.bigbizstudios.com for an example of such a company.


Dan McLean Jr aka, Magic Roadie
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I'm 100% with Lyndel on this. It's equivalent to comparing a hack and a pro, both using the same illusion. There are a thousand excellent reasons that EVERYONE knows which one's the pro and which one's the hack. As with most things, skill, expreience, talent, and good judgement are at LEAST as important as good gear.

Without knowing where you are in Indiana, try looking at the different possibilities under "video" in your local yellow pages. Be sure to ask for demo material, and approximate costs for the ones you like.
Dan McLean Jr
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Profile of Grandillusionsmagic
Also make sure to have good lighting, I have a friend who's hobby is a video editing. he records at least one show a year, and every time he tells me to improve the lighting for the camera, he also understands that for some things you can't have as much light. anyway over the years I have learned how to get the lighting to work. another example is the local news program came and recorded one of my shows, well parts. even though they are the leading news program, their cameras aren't "the best" the video they had was no better, if not worse than my friends video, so lighting, cameraman, and camera are all very important.
The Drake
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Most wedding videographers will have the proper equipment AND the skill to use it properly. These cameras will have proper iris options to work in just about any lighting.

Its a waste of money to rent a camera if you don't understand all its potential. A proper videographer will know how to make the camera perform best. I imaging hiring a video person won't be much more than renting a pro camera from a local AV source.

Here in my area a decent camera rents for around $150 a day. You could probably get a person to with their own equipment to record the show for a little more than that. Check out smaller video companies. A larger corp will not be so willing to give you a break...and independant videographer will see your job as something to make a few extra bucks on ( as long as its not on a weekend when they have a wedding to do )

Your idea of recording the act in bits is a good one as well. Those extra angle shots can be edited into the version filmed live and it will make your video look much more pro.


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Profile of ScottRSullivan
As Dan and Timothy mentions, hiring a pro will be your best bet if you want QUALITY footage. Anyone can throw a camera on sticks but to get the shot, that's another story.

Adjusting the iris is good, but more importantly, you'll want someone who can operate a camera with a larger CCD. The size of the imaging chip in the camera is VERY important. Most consumer cameras have one 1/4" CCD. Most pros use cameras with larger chips and cameras that have three of these chips (one for Red, Green and Blue). You want a camera with three 1/3" CCDs at a minimum.

I would go so far as to say that when shooting stage shows, I'd rather have a camera with a larger CCD than a higher resolution. This is why some of the new high-def cameras are a joke. They've got great resolution, but you need to shoot during the daylight hours since they have 1/4" chips! What a waste!

I'd actually ask your videographer if they have a 1/2" or 2/3" CCD camera. They'll know what you're talking about. If they don't, don't hire them.

As Timothy mentions, the wedding guys would be good to talk to since they deal with low-light shooting on a regular basis (receptions). Most of the guys I know who do weddings have at least a 1/2" CCD camera. I'm a Panasonic fan, but don't let that be your determining factor.

The important thing in my book is if they can get the shot YOU want. Storyboard what you'd like. Let them know about your effects and what shots your looking for. This way they can anticipate the magical moment and get the shot. The more time you spend with them prior to the gig going over storyboards, the better you'll be spending your money.

Finally, this may be pushing your budget (but every penny spent now will earn you many more down the road), but get a sound guy for these shows. This will help make your video ROCK! If possible, run two direct XLR lines into your camera. One from your lavelier, one from the camera. This way you get crisp sound from you and audience reaction (VERY important!). Record them to different channels and mix them to your liking in post-production.

Let us know how it turns out. You've got some great suggestions from some very informed Café members already. Listen to what they said. They know what they're talking about!


The 1/4", 1/3" etc. do not refer to the actual size of the chip, but the diameter of vacuum tubes used decades ago on the old analog cameras. It's a carry-over from the old days that just sort of stuck. Just a bit of useless info.
Jared Sherlock
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Yes deffinantly great info. As a side note and this will also help the video I suppose. But I will be in a fully functional proffesional theater with every light, mics/ sound, and drop I desire including some nice piece of lighting like INTELS. So I have most of the resources to get some great shots now its just making it happen. Thanks for the help. Ill let ya know how it goes.

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Profile of halcon
Okay guys, this is my area of expertise. it is all in the lighting! lighting for the audience is very different than lighting for the camera. at best, a video camera will have a contrast ratio of 4:1. Humans have an 8:1 ratio. I don't care if you have the best camera on the market, if your lighting is not right it's going to look like crap. sure we can make the lighting look awesome to our eyes, but I guarantee it will look nothing like that to the camera. If you want a quality video shot I suggest you hire a pro. do not make the mistake of trying to light for the audience at the same time you do for the camera. if you have to light for both, pick for the camera. To the audience it will just seem bright. forget about opening up the iris all the way. It will be to difficult to keep the camera in focus, unless you're on a wide shot.

I cannot stress it enough, if you want it to look right hire a pro. the theatre LD does not count as an LD for television. Hire someone that's knowledgable in lighting for video. Note I said experienced with video... not film! Film has more lattitude than video and often times throws off a film dp when he lights video.

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